A Note About Issaquah Highlands Land Use
The Issaquah Highlands community totals 22,000 acres. Of that land, only 23.9% is dedicated to dense housing, retail, and commercial uses, and more than 76% is publicly dedicated to open space.
(Updated September 2021) Developer Taylor Morrison built and sold over 72 homes in Westridge South and 37 homes in the actively selling Westridge North single-family community. In addition, 131 Westridge townhomes have sold, and 45 are actively selling in the Westridge North townhomes community. For more information and appointments, visit the sales office or go online.
- High Street Linear Park: Estimated completion November 2021.
- Life Enrichment Options (LEO) group home: Under construction, includes six units for adult tenants. Estimated completion in December 2021, followed by licensing.
- This is the second LEO home in Issaquah Highlands; the first is in the Black Nugget Park neighborhood.
- Westridge Community Garden: To include 70 3 feet by 5 feet plots in 13 beds. Estimated completion in March 2022.
- Affordable Housing Units: 38 units to complete, estimated by May 2022.
- Single Family Homes: 47 units to complete, estimated by December 2022.
- Townhomes: 84 units to complete, estimated by February 2023.
Alexan Heartwood Apartments:
Updated as of September 2021
- Now leasing!
- 135 apartment units
- Five stories on the east side, two additional lower floors for townhomes, parking on west side
- Amenities include an outdoor pool, rooftop deck, pet spa, and fitness center.
- Featured on the cover of Fall 2021 Connections: The Annual Development Issue.
- Read “On the Cover: A Look Inside the Alexan Hearwood Apartments” (September 2021).
Tract D Single Family Homes:
(Updated as of September 2021) The small parcel at the base of College Drive, along NE Falls Drive between the Highlands at Wynhaven Apartments and the Forest Ridge neighborhood, is known as “Tract D” and is owned by Taylor Morrison (formerly Polygon Homes), the developer of the Forest Ridge neighborhood and the new Westridge neighborhood. Taylor Morrison expects to break ground in January 2022 on 10 market-rate single-family homes.
- Ten single family homes on 1.12 acres.
- Polygon Homes submitted a preliminary plat in 2018 which shows unit locations, lot lines, roads, trails, public spaces, etc.
- Includes a public overlook with views to the west.
Read this 2017 blog post to learn more about the history of this project.
Harrison Street and Grand Ridge Drive:
(Updated as of September 2021) A total of 130 lots make up the Harrison Street and Grand Ridge Drive neighborhoods. Today, there are 113 occupied custom homes, while 17 lots remain in various stages of the custom architectural review process managed by the Issaquah Highlands Community Association (IHCA). One lot remains for sale on Grand Ridge Drive.
High Street Linear Park
(Updated as of September 2021) High Street Linear Park was approved by the Issaquah City Council in July 2018. A portion of Northeast High Street was converted for a multi-use trail for non-motorized travel. The quarter-mile trail will feature amenities and recreation to total about 31,000 square feet of park space. Estimated completion November 2021.
Learn more about the history of this project here.
Issaquah Highlands Community Association (IHCA) Parks
Updated as of September 2021
Logan Park: Formerly known as “Two Pipes Park,” this beautiful green space, located at 30th Avenue NE and 29th Lane NE, got an exciting makeover from the IHCA this summer, removing the pipes and installing a new state-of-the-art play structure.
Magnolia Park: This summer, the IHCA resurfaced the basketball court and replaced the hoop at Magnolia Park, located at the top of NE Magnolia Street. The IHCA expects to complete the following by fall: new roof and painting of the park picnic shelter, new picnic tables, and park landscape improvements.
Read about the IHCA’s Five-Year Parks Project, as published in July 2021 Connections.
(Updated as of September 2021) Developer Shelter Holdings owns the L-shaped property located along 9th Avenue Northeast from Northeast High Street to Northeast Discovery Drive and from Northeast Discovery Drive to 5th Place Northeast. Since 2014, Shelter Holdings has desired to develop this property with uses it feels will serve our community. In 2017, Shelter Holdings began subdividing the 1.8 million square foot property zoned retail/commercial and pursued approvals for several development proposals that complied with the Issaquah Highlands Development Agreement.
The proposals included:
- Retail: Pedestrian-oriented retail development similar in scale to the existing Grand Ridge Plaza, to include several restaurants, an entertainment facility, specialty grocer, pharmacy, daycare, and other daily goods and services. The proposal consists of 107,000 square feet of building area distributed among 11 buildings on five lots, with off-street surface parking for about 545 stalls. The buildings would primarily be single-story retail with opportunities for an additional 13,000 square feet of second-story retail, restaurants, or deck space to take advantage of views from the site. This second-story option would increase the total building area to 120,000 square feet.
- Medical Office: A medical office building (sized 88,000 square feet) to complement and support the existing Swedish Hospital and Proliance medical facilities, including 391 parking stalls.
- Self-Storage: A 108,385 square feet, four-story self-storage facility with three stories above grade and one story below grade.
- Corner of 9th Avenue Northeast and Northeast Discovery Drive: The site includes a proposal for 120,000 gross square feet of office space, an 18,000 gross square feet fitness center, and 5,000 gross square feet of retail to complement and support the existing community, including Swedish Hospital and Proliance medical facilities, and the previously mentioned medical office building. The site is adjacent to Northeast Discovery Drive, approximately 154,030 square feet (3.54 acres), with approximately 291 parking stalls (including 17 on-street). The building would be sited to the southeastern portion of the site to activate the corner of 9th Ave Northeast and Northeast Discovery Drive. According to the city of Issaquah, this portion of the project only went through a pre-application process and Shelter Holdings did not submit a Site Development Permit. The city has not denied development of this parcel.
The city denied Shelter Holdings’ applications because they do not comply with the new regulations adopted after termination of the Issaquah Highlands Development Agreement. Shelter Holdings argues it submitted its applications before termination of the development agreement, and the new regulations should not apply to their plans for the parcel.
The current Issaquah Highlands development regulations adopted by the city in 2018 require a minimum of over 900,000 square feet of dense commercial development. In a statement to Highlands Council, Shelter Holdings said, “the type of large-scale office buildings that the regulations require is not economically feasible in Issaquah Highlands.” The dispute remains in litigation.
Read more about the history of this project here.
(Updated as of September 2021) In August, hotel developer Sycan sold the former City Surf location to BML Development Corporation. According to the company’s real estate broker, BML has “hired consultants to analyze the property and make recommendations for the best use of the land.” This 90,000 square foot parcel, located behind Dick’s Sporting Goods at the corner of 10th Avenue Northeast and Northeast Falls Drive, is zoned for retail/commercial use.
(Updated as of September 2021) Swedish Issaquah has a development agreement with the city of Issaquah that runs through 2033. The project contains approximately 28 acres and 1,077,000 gross square feet; about 538,000 square feet are complete, leaving 539,000 square feet yet to develop, essentially doubling Swedish Issaquah in size by 2033.
According to the city of Issaquah, Swedish received an extension last September, allowing the temporary parking lot on the northeast corner of NE Blakely Drive and 8th Avenue NE to remain until December 2022. By December 2022, Swedish will need a master plan and a building permit for the remaining 539,000 square feet or remove the parking lot. According to Swedish Chief Executive and Highlands Council Trustee Chris Beaudoin, there is “nothing public to share at this time.”
(Updated as of September 2021) Bellevue College owns the property along College Drive between Central Park and the Forest Ridge neighborhood. The 372,000-gross-square-foot parcel is zoned for institutional use, or could Bellevue College could sell to a developer that could construct up to 310 residential units.
Bellevue College Interim President Gary Locke said, “Unfortunately, I have nothing to report re[garding] our plans for the Issaquah Highlands property. We will, in the next few months, be taking a thorough review/analysis of the property, but nothing to report now.”
Read more about the history of this project here.
ISD School Siting
(Updated as of June 2018) In 2018, the Issaquah School District (ISD) considered a property on the western border of Issaquah Highlands, west of Swedish Hospital, for a new elementary school. After thorough site analysis (including geo-tech and arborist studies), ISD decided not to pursue the property for a school. In June 2018, ISD announced they would build a new elementary school on what’s referred to as the “Volpe property” on Issaquah Pine Lake Road, approximately two miles from Issaquah Highlands.
Read more about the history of this project here.
City of Issaquah Capital Improvement Plan Projects
(Updated as of September 2021) The following are notable Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) development projects located in Issaquah Highlands (subject to change and does not represent a budget commitment):
South Spar Booster Pump Station
Construction in progress, estimated completion 2023. A drinking water booster pump station and approximately 8,000 linear feet of water transmission lines are under construction by the Issaquah Public Works Department. The project will provide redundant facilities to move drinking water to Issaquah Highlands, including to Swedish Hospital (which serves as a critical care facility), as well as to over 5,000 residents. As part of the project, a portion of the Issaquah-Preston Trail within the project site is closed until 2023; a detour travels through Olde Town. Find more information at https://www.issaquahwa.gov/3267/South-SPAR-Booster-Pump-Station.
Highlands Sewer Main Capacity and Redundancy Project
Estimated completion 2023. The city will design and construct a redundant sewer main from Issaquah Highlands to the I-90 under-crossing to provide a redundant and larger capacity conveyance system that is safer and more reliable. Currently, one pipe conveys all sewage from Issaquah Highlands, running over a steep slope from 5th Avenue NE to the Issaquah Public Works Operations facility. The current system is more than 20 years old, designed when its planned use differed from its modern application. Today, the system experiences higher demands and higher flow than intended. Additionally, this system is the only sewer connection from Issaquah Highlands to the valley floor. A new redundant system would provide additional capacity and further protect critical facilities.
Public Works Storage Site
Estimated completion 2024-2025. The city will design and construct storage facilities near the IHCA maintenance shop and Vista Community Gardens for Public Works Operations and Parks Maintenance equipment and supplies. The project increases productivity with trip time reductions and local storage of frequently-used materials.
Bike Skills Park
Estimated completion 2024. The city will locate, design, and construct a bike skills park, including a challenge course and pump track on Issaquah parkland. Initially conceived as a clustered set of features under the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) powerlines in Central Park, this project will seek alternate locations through community engagement and consultation with project partner Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance. Issaquah Highlands master developer Port Blakely dedicated funds to the city to develop a bike skills park, and the project has remained a community priority.
Central Park to Valley Trail via Issaquah-Preston Trail
Estimated completion 2027. Provide a trail connection from Central Park down to the Issaquah-Preston Trail, considered a needed non-motorized connection.
City Development Projects Beyond 2027
(Updated as of September 2021) The following are anticipated future year projects, not anticipated to begin until after 2027. Anticipated costs are rough estimates and will be refined further should the project timeline accelerate.
Issaquah location not identified in the city’s Capital Improvement Plan. Design and construct a large-scale pool facility with an estimated cost of $22,260,000. While the future facility’s Issaquah location is unknown, Issaquah Highlands residents have expressed a strong desire to have a community pool. Be sure to follow the work of city administration and the City Council during annual budget planning and annual reviews of the Capital Improvement Plans. Take advantage of public comment time during City Council agendas to share opinions and encourage action.
West Highlands City Park
Create a new public park for Issaquah residents and seek opportunities to connect this future park space to the valley floor and trail system.
Central Park Pad 4 Improvements
A $10 million investment to improve and activate existing undeveloped Pad 4 parkland and the Pad 1 parking area following the Central Park Master Site Development Plan, based on the community’s desire to create an open grass lawn area, picnic shelters, and an education area.
Lake Tradition to Central Park I-90 Crossing
This project would create an I-90 crossing from the Tradition Plateau to Central Park.
Central Park Traffic Signal and Mini Roundabout
Install a new traffic signal at the intersection of Central Park Lane NE and NE Park Drive. Construct a mini roundabout at the intersection of Central Park Lane NE and College Drive.
Park Drive Pedestrian Safety
Complete a design study to address additional pedestrian crossing issues along NE Park Drive between 17th Ave NE and the trail crossing east of Central Park Lane NE, including a potential second traffic signal at the Grand Ridge Elementary School driveway.
Central Park Booster Station Retrofit – Water Utility
This project consists of the design and construction of the Central Park Booster Station.
Latest Development News
As governed by the Issaquah Highlands Development Agreement (DA), 30% of residential development shall be “affordable housing”. The DA further defines “affordable” as that which is calculated as affordable to those earning 80, 100 and 120% of the King County median income. (Currently, the King County household median income is $73,000.)
An opportunity to speak publicly, addressing a body such as the City Council, on a topic that is not scheduled for a Public Hearing at that meeting. City Council provides this opportunity at the beginning of each meeting. The UVDC and City Council committees also welcome audience comments. (See specific agendas on the City website.)
Office, Hotel, Restaurants, Fitness, Entertainment, Warehousing/Storage, Light Manufacturing, etc.
An agreement (contract) between a land owner and a jurisdiction, such as a city, that determines how a property will be developed. The agreement has a term (i.e. 20 years) and “runs” with the land, if sold. The Issaquah Highlands Development Agreement was signed in 1996.
A casual reference to the end of buildout period of the Issaquah Highlands Development Agreement (DA), and the agreement’s termination. Even though undeveloped properties remain in the Highlands, the City or the Master Developer can choose to terminate the DA at the end of the buildout period, which occurs in 2017.
Amount of residential, commercial or institutional development allowed by a contract such as a Development Agreement.
Schools, Churches, Cultural Facilities, etc.
In September 2016, the City of Issaquah enacted a six-month moratorium on certain types of development. There are many exceptions. Notable to Issaquah Highlands is that all land governed by Development Agreements is excluded. In February 2017 the City Council extended this moratorium to September 6, 2017.
A scheduled opportunity to speak on the record on a specific topic. The Urban Village Development Commission (UVDC) and City Council both hold Public Hearings. Public notice of a hearing will be provided at least 10 days in advance. Sign up on the City’s website, “Notify Me” to receive email notices of Public Hearings.
Stores and Shops, Grocery Stores, Banks, Winery/Brewery, etc.
When a development is large or complicated the Site Development Permit application process is used, which includes a Public Hearing.
Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) is a voluntary, incentive- based program that allows landowners to sell development rights from their land to a developer or other interested party who then can use these rights to increase the density of development at another designated location.
A commission serving by appointment of the Mayor to review and approve (or recommend to approve) applications to develop land in the city’s Urban Villages, such as Issaquah Highlands.